when life feels like an hourglass,
i seek solace in what i love most:
fingers strewn over the keys
of a dirty MacBook Air,
eyes strained from the creamy glow
of a blank Word document,
my mind finally relaxed,
a digital massage.
what can i craft, like an architect
and blueprints and concrete magic?
where can i go, like a world traveler
and tennis shoes and a weathered map?
who will i meet, like a writer
and a pen and a sheet of paper?
the possibilities are endless,
and they are mine.
when the stress is overwhelming, and the real world clamps down tight, i remember my sweet escape, the riskiness of a writer and her invented world. my blood boils as i pan for gold, waiting on the cusp of my world to unleash itself upon my very fingertips.
Hello, my beautiful and wonderful readers!
I hope you all are doing great as we begin this new week in August 2019. For today’s post, I wanted to share with you all this poem I wrote in autumn 2018, and I think it will relate to a lot of you who are writers and wish to showcase your emotions to the world.
For writers there is almost no greater passion than chugging out our thoughts on paper (or in my case, a Word doc hehe). We have thoughts and emotions bubbling to the surface of our blood, and there is no escape greater than releasing what we need to express. As a writer, I have found that this process is almost like taking a crucial test: There is buildup and anxiety that is followed by relieved elation at finishing the test. (Of course, the grader is one’s audience, but that is another story altogether.)
“on the cusp” can relate to more than just writing. Some of you have other passions that you must share with the world. I’m serious. You may think I’m lying, but I truly believe each and every one of you have an amazing purpose that has put you on Earth at this particular moment in time. So, if you’re not exactly sure what your “sweet escape is,” take a moment and reflect today.
What relieves your stress? What frees you from the pressures of this world? What gives you the greatest joy?
Consider, and make an effort to implement more of your time into your joy.
Now that we are done with the two-week poetry series, I am excited to share some other content with you guys. As you know, this blog is devoted to various topics, including writing, philosophy, and travel. Since it has been a while since we’ve done a travel post, I thought it would be perfect timing to share with you guys a recent trip of mine… To the Big Island of Hawai’i!
This was my first time to Hawai’i, and I have to say it was one for the books. I encourage you all to check out Hawai’i at some point, because it is a nature lover’s dream. (Really it is anyone’s dream. There is so much to do!)
Therefore I’d like to share some things I got the chance to do, and maybe this will sell you on your next vacation. 🙂
Stops: North Kohala Coast, Waimea
Activities: Intro to local area, shops, etc.
After arriving in the small town of Kona on the Big Island, my family quickly hopped in our rental Jeep and headed north to the Kohala Coast. We stayed at a quaint cabin called the Kohala Lodge. Gorgeous view, idyllic, pastoral scene–it was a perfect way to start out a vacation (and throw in goats and ponies down the hill!).
After check in, we took a trek to Waimea, a small town nestled between green mountains and a Nevada-looking desert scene. I wish I had a good picture of the drive between Hāwī and Waimea, but unfortunately I do not. Just trust me, and imagine rolling hills with mountain and ocean backdrops!
Stops: Mauna Loa, Hilo
Activities: Encounter Mauna Kea protestors; travel Mauna Loa to its tip; visit Hilo, largest “city” on island
Day 2 was an opportunity to explore more of the island! We got up early, headed to the center of the island, and wondered if we were going to drive straight through an environmental protest… And we did.
Mauna Kea, the world’s tallest mountain (taller than even Mt. Everest, when you look at its oceanic base), is a sacred mountaintop to many Hawaiians. In the meantime, the company TMT wishes to replace a collection of telescopes on the tip top of Mauna Kea with a new, state-of-the-art telescope that could potentially pollute natural waters for the residents.
Hawaiians are very divided on this issue. On one hand, environmentalists wish to preserve the beauty and integrity of Mauna Kea; on the other, the telescope would bring endless opportunity for astronomers. The telescope’s construction would also provide economic opportunity for the island.
Whatever your position on this issue may be, my family and I just wanted to avoid a roadblock in the middle of this desert landscape. And we ended up driving straight through the protest, passing hundreds of people on a mission to block the telescope’s construction.
Instead we decided to traverse Mauna Loa, the world’s biggest mountain (not tallest!). After going up 11,000 feet we were tired, hungry for oxygen, and descended into the lusher area of Hilo, about an hour to the east.
We did not stay in Hilo very long, though the weather was pretty nice, despite Hilo’s status as the fourth-rainiest American town. We visited Rainbow Falls and headed north after lunch at none other than Taco Bell (blech!) to see Akaka Falls (pictured below).
After a quick stop at Akaka Falls, I found an abandoned airstrip on Google Maps. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a baby pilot who loves aviation quite a bit, and I made us head up an old road once used for the production of sugar cane.
We were probably pretty dumb doing this, but it was a lot of fun, especially when we got to the end of the road and realized we were already driving on the overgrown runway. Who knows the history of Waipunalei Airstrip, because I couldn’t find anything online, and I highly doubt many people today know of its existence. That’s why it was shocking to find it on Google Maps.
Whatever the case, it was a highlight of my trip: An abandoned airstrip with a lot of buried history.
Stops: Kona, Captain Cook
Activities: Snorkeling Adventure, Captain Cook Monument, The Painted Church
Kona is located on the leeward side of the island, and it’s a town of about 12,000 people. Though we did not spend much time in Kona itself (a quick lunch at Denny’s and a stop at Walmart for supplies), we were much more invested in a snorkeling excursion in a little town to the south called Captain Cook.
Unfortunately I do not have any pictures of this activity, despite it being my favorite part of the entire trip, due to the fact that I didn’t want to lose my phone in the kayaking portion of the journey. However, you’ll just have to imagine brilliant blue water and a whole lot of tourists swimming about as kayakers push against the shore to see the Captain Cook monument. (Captain James Cook was a famous explorer who was killed by Hawaiians in this namesake town.)
This experience was made even better by our friendly tour guide, Lalu, a local who showed us the best places to snorkel while giving us a little history of the area and its ties to Captain Cook’s ultimate demise.
After the three mile roundtrip kayak experience, we headed back to our car, changed clothes, and stopped at The Painted Church, a Catholic church about ten minutes from our kayak point. The Painted Church is well-known due to its painted interior, as the first priests who journeyed to Hawai’i explained biblical stories to locals through paintings on the church’s walls.
Stops: North Kohala Coast, Waikoloa Village
Activities: Sunrise Hike, Zipline Adventures, Luau at Marriott
My dad and I are fans of hiking, while my mom and sister are not. So when we suggested getting up at five to catch this ideal spot, my mom and sister laughed at us, and we went anyway.
The forty-five minute roundtrip hike spans incredible views of the Polulu Valley and coastline. Polulu is located at the very end of a main road on the Kohala Coast, so not many people were around–especially at the ungodly hour of sunrise. (Although we did run into a weird woman who was possibly worshipping a plant.)
The hike was stunningly beautiful, and a perfect reminder that sometimes you’ve just gotta bite the bullet, set your alarm, and run down a mountain in the darkness to wait for the perfect sunrise.
After our hike, we headed home, showered, and got prepped for a zipline activity in the nearby town of Kapaau. It was an incredible experience to zip through hundred-foot trees, but after so many activities I was quite ready for a nap by the end of our adventures (see the image below).
Post zipline, we showered once more and then headed to the resort town of Waikoloa Village in order to catch a sunset luau. This was my mom’s favorite experience of the entire trip, as it was a chance to listen to traditional Hawaiian music and see the hula and other Polynesian dances.
Stops: Volcanoes National Park, Black Sands, South Kona
Activities: Quick hikes, Pu’uhonua O Hõnaunau National Park
Our last day on the island was a packed one. While we were staying on the Big Island’s North Coast, Volcanoes National Park is located on the opposite side of the island, roughly a two-hour drive away. Plus it was a foggy and rainy morning, which you can see in the pictures below.
That didn’t stop us from making the journey down to Volcanoes. There are no current lava flows (thank goodness, and hopefully everyone has recovered from the volcano issues from a few years ago), but there are various pockets of steam located throughout the park. We also journeyed to the crater of a volcano (although we stayed at the rim). If you look close enough at the picture below, you can see that there are trails in the middle of this crater, and people are walking in it! I was not that brave, to say the least.
After an hour at the park, which is not enough time, we had to hurry down to Black Sands, about a twenty minute drive away. This is a black sand beach that is pretty peaceful. Since we were in a time crunch, we could not stay long, but I’m thankful for the time I got there.
After Black Sands, we headed to Pu’uhonua O Hõnaunau National Park in order to learn more about Hawaiian culture. Pu’uhonua O Hõnaunau is located on sacred grounds, and it was very important to take a few moments to educate ourselves on traditions of the area.
While the other parts of the island were quite chilly in the fog and rain, Pu’uhonua O Hõnaunau National Park was humid and hot–too much like home for my liking.
After our stop there, we hurried back to the north, grabbed some dinner, and started packing for our ten-hour return trip, which was a beast of its own, as you can imagine. 🙂
PLEASE GO SEE THE ISLAND YOURSELF.
Hawai’i is an incredible place. It’s laid-back island living, and it would be so easy to get lost there for ages. That being said, I’m a pretty fast-paced person, and I found myself wanting to hop on a plane and go see the other islands that comprise this great state.
While the aforementioned stops were what my family did on our trip, I’m sure there are countless more places we missed. The island is an island, but its diversity is incredible. Where else can one drive through a desert to a tropical rainforest in an hour or less?
Go check out Hawai’i. Maybe I’ll see you there someday. 🙂
As for now, I’m back at home in the throes of studies. But do you want my honest opinion? Really there is no place like home, especially after a long vacation away.
You are probably so sick of me at this point, but I hope you are enjoying these frequent posts. As you guys know, I typically post twice a week, but this past week has been my favorite week of blogging ever. And that’s because of you all! I am constantly astounded by your sweet comments and support of my poetry. Wow!
As for this sweet but short post, I want to thank Sarika of Sarika, Pure Reflections for nominating me for this award. Please go support and check out her blog, and you definitely will not regret it. What a sweet soul Sarika is!
MYSTERY BLOGGER AWARD
What is the Mystery Blogger Award? “The Mystery Blogger Award is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.” – Okoto Enigma
The Rules: 1. Put the award logo on your blog. 2. List the rules. 3. Thank whoever nominated you and include a link to their blog. 4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link to their blog as well. 5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself. 6. Nominate 10-20 people. 7. Notify your nominees. 8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice, specifying one weird/funny question. 9. Share a link to your best post(s).
Three Things About Me (you guys are probably sick of my answers, and I’m honestly running out of ideas for these little factoids lol)
I do not like tomatoes. I know, I know… What kind of a person am I? Well, I do really enjoy salsa at Mexican restaurants, but tomatoes by themselves are not my favorite.
I volunteered at the local library for four years straight and accumulated over a hundred hours there (probably more, but my memory fails me). To this day I am a neat freak when it comes to keeping my books in order, though I am messier about other things.
I have an irrational fear of closets. My sister still makes fun of me for it.
Who or what inspires you to write and in life in general?
There is a hunger in me that is only fed when I’m writing. My inspiration comes from the most random places and people. Sometimes ideas strike in dreams, but mostly my ideas come to me when I am daydreaming or falling asleep. From there it takes off.
When did you start blogging?
Two years ago. My aunt challenged me to make a travel blog, and I laughed at her. “A blog?” I asked. Of course now, my tune has changed. ❤
What do you like and dislike about yourself?
Hmm… I do think I have a gentle spirit that attracts people of all backgrounds, and I appreciate deep conversation with anyone and everyone. However, this can sometimes be a detrimental issue, as I tend to get railroaded and trampled on due to my conflict-averse personality.
What is the most memorable moment in your life?
The most memorable moment so far: Finding out my mom was pregnant with my sister. I was seven-years-old, and I will never forget jumping up and down when we found out Mom was pregnant with Gen. I actually found out before my dad, since he was coming back from a trip. When he walked into the room and saw us jumping, he was like, “What the…” 🙂
Who is your favorite person?
Oh, this question KILLS! Sarika, what a tough one. While I hate the idea of choosing a “favorite” person, because I believe there are so many people out there who will help you in all aspects of your life. But if I had to choose, I’d pick my redonk sister, Gen, who keeps me on my toes every single day.
My Best Blog Post
Oh, geez. I have no idea. My favorite poem so far has been “a dream killed me,” which you can check out here.
Do you prefer blogging or writing on your own time (poetry, novels, etc.)?
What made you start blogging in the first place?
Do you feel that blogging has improved your writing?
If you could go to space or the bottom of the ocean, which would you choose and why?
THANK YOU, GUYS!
All right, hopefully I did this correctly. Thank you again for reading this post, and I hope you guys are enjoying your afternoon. I am still waiting out a hurricane (it has been downgraded to a tropical depression, FYI), which is giving me time to work more on this blog.
Do not forget tomorrow will be Day 2 of the Seven Heavenly Virtues series!
As promised, today’s post is going to revolve around our favorite topic… WRITING!!!
The past few months have been heavily devoted to life updates, poems, and musings, so it is about time for some source material on this blog, and that is the art of writing!
The truth is that we as writers should always strive to build our craft. While some people have a natural knack for words, there is still so much behind this skill that must be carefully maintained in order to persuade and inspire an audience. Therefore, we must remember to be patient and implement these upcoming five tips in our art.
Without further ado, let’s hit the list!
1. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
No literary great became great overnight.
This is inevitably one of the most important tips on this list, because you must practice your writing in order to improve. As a student pilot, I couldn’t just hop in an airplane and expect to know how to get off the ground… And even if I did get off the ground, what about the landing? Maybe this isn’t the best example, but I hope it hits you a little bit in the heart. We must recognize that we are students of words.
Here is something I want you to think on: What was your first story? What was your first poem? Your first journal entry? What about song? Or whatever your method of writing is? Now think about why you wrote that. How did you write it? What were you trying to say? What insights did you want to give to the world?
You’re also probably thinking: What the heck was that trash? And that’s okay! You can be proud of your first work, but the truth is that there’s probably a lot you would change if you could. And that means you’re doing what you should be doing: Practicing.
So, what exactly does practicing entail? Well, you’ve gotta sit down, ignore the world around you, and get to work. You have to be willing to commit to your art, and stick to it. If something isn’t working, figure it out. As you write more and more, you will develop your own methodical approach of writing and editing (which should arguably take longer than the actual writing process, if we’re being honest). And there is a great feeling when you’ve got your ritual of writing down.
What’s even greater than that?
Seeing how far you’ve grown.
2. FOCUS ON GRAMMAR
Some of us are grammar nerds, and others aren’t. I fall into the first category. One of the first things I notice about anything is how grammatically strong it is. If there are countless errors, I’m probably going to grow a little agitated. Why is that?
Well, when I pay for a book, I expect it to be the perfect copy of what was once the writer’s surreal conception. If I’m going to toss fifteen bucks to the industry, I want to know that I’ve paid for something borne from hard work and creative beauty.
Maybe you’re not the same, but I’m going to ask you to consider this point carefully then. Your audience will know whether you put the time and effort into your manuscript, and one of the tell-tale signs is through grammar. For example, my mom is a grammar fiend who will pick apart any of my works. While this can be frustrating, I know that she is coming at my work with an analytical mind, and that’s a good thing. When we write for an audience, we’re writing for people who don’t necessarily think like us. And if you want to impress your writers, you need to know how to write effectively.
So, how do you know if your grammar is satisfactory? Some websites I have used in the past include these:
We live in the technological age. Do not be afraid to use online programs, spellcheckers, and your friends to help you with grammar. Nobody’s perfect, but we must humble ourselves and seek advice when it comes to our writing. How else will we improve?
3. USE YOUR AUDIENCE
All right. How could we talk about improving our writing without a shoutout to the people for whom we’re writing?
We writers are selfish (or maybe it’s just me). I’ll admit it: I write as if I’m the main character. Some of my characters are actually based on people I know. Some plot points are borrowed from real life.
But guess what? Your stories aren’t going to sell if you don’t have a mind for your audience.
Maybe you’re the kind of person who is just writing for yourself. Maybe you will never publish anything. However, a lot of you guys are bloggers, and that means you are publishing things. The truth is that you must have a knowledge and appreciation of your fanbase, because there are people who will be reading and analyzing your materials. And if you want your audience to like you, you must be willing to write for them.
What I mean is that if you want to write beauty advice posts, then your target audience has to be the people who are interested in your topic. So leave Easter Eggs for them! Write posts and see how they respond. If they’re not super interested in certain aspects of what you’re producing, check in and see what else they’d like to see from you. Your audience knows when you’re invested in what you write, and they’ll be more likely to invest in you as a result.
4. READ UNTIL YOU CAN READ NO MORE
When I was in elementary school, I remember telling my teacher, “Yeah, I love writing so much, but I hate reading.” While that was most definitely a lie, and who knows why I said that, it is simply a law of the universe that a writer must read in order to improve his or her craft.
Although I do believe a writer’s style has unique elements, I also know that we develop our styles through the writers we read. We borrow aspects we enjoy and toss what we hate into our mental trash cans. When we read thousands of works in various genres, we learn what works for the audience and what doesn’t.
If you want to write commercial fiction, study the masters like King, Grisham, and Steel. You may not like their writing techniques (I certainly do not like Danielle Steel), but they’ve become super successful for a reason. If you’re invested in poetry, study the different forms and practice your own. If you want to write songs, you have to study what goes into songwriting, and study through those who have done it in the past.
Plus, if you want to make it big, you have to know the environment. You get a better picture of the environment when you know what’s selling best right now. If you don’t care about making it big, you should still aim to improve your writing. So don’t make excuses; start reading.
5. WRITE FROM THE HEART
Others will argue with me on this one, and that’s okay. While this list is in no particular order, I believe that the biggest tip to improve your writing is to write from your own heart.
You have your voice–and no one else’s. That is why people will be drawn to what you produce. And, as I’ve stated previously, your audience will recognize when you are writing from your heart (or not).
What does this even mean then?
Think of the most beautiful song you’ve ever heard in your life. What makes it beautiful? The notes, certainly, but it’s also the build-up of emotionality behind it. I will never forget hours and hours of dissecting piano music and learning the hardest songs I’ve ever played. While I would hit every note with precision from all the practice, my one-of-a-kind teacher, Mrs. Xu-Peppers, would shake her head and say, “But you aren’t playing with your heart.”
What? I was sixteen, my fingers flying across those keys, and my teacher was still disappointed? But then I got it: There is more to music than the notes. Like she wisely said, I had to learn to play with my heart, because only then would I understand what the music was saying to me and to my audience.
Writing is the same exact thing. You can write like a pro, but if you’re not writing from your heart, then you’re going to fall flat. You have to write things that matter to you. You have to write with honesty and convey your unique perspective of the world. You must be willing to share the raw side of you, so that we can gain understanding from the emotions that flow through your blood.
How do you do this?
Write as if you’ve only got one day left on Earth to live. Write as if your life depends on it. Write as if you’ll never get the chance again.
GET TO WRITING, GUYS!
My hope is that you guys have taken some of these tips to heart. While I’m blabbing away on this topic, I definitely feel convicted by some of the tips listed above, and I will try to implement them more in my own writing life. Never forget that none of us is perfect, and that’s probably why we’re all on these blogs, so that we can share our experiences and learn from others. 🙂
The point of this post is to encourage you. You have so many opportunities, so use them! Forget the insecurities in your head, and get to work. You’ve got an audience waiting to hear from you. ❤
Keep me updated on your goals and writing life. I am super excited to hear from you.
I’m sure you’re reading this and laughing. You’re probably thinking, “What the heck were you thinking?” and the truth is that I’m thinking the same thing. Right now it’s nearly nine o’clock (bedtime’s calling soon) and I’m jamming to a sad song called “Older” by Sasha Sloan. I’ve been waiting for inspiration to strike me all day for this blog post, and you came to mind.
The past few weeks have been really interesting. I’ve been searching through old memories for answers as to who I’m becoming, as if I’ll get the answers that way. Today alone I saw three people I haven’t seen in years, people who watched me grow up and looked at me with the same shock in their eyes. It’s something we all say, over and over again, hoping that the truth will sink in, though it probably never will: Time’s flying, and time’s flying fast.
You probably know that, considering you’re reading this at a different time and in a different place. You’ll probably read this letter and think, “I thought time was flying then? But look at it now!” And I can’t disagree with you, because I’ll never understand how some years feel like snails are running the show, and others like we’re going faster than the speed of light. But you’ve always known the truth: You’re not in control, and that’s okay.
I wonder who you’ll be like. I pray you are kind-hearted and humble. Maybe you’ll stumble now and then, but you’ll be strong and won’t wallow in the past. You will treat everyone with respect and dignity, and you’ll write so much that your wrists fall off your hands (okay, I’m going to actually hope that your wrists are still intact). You will never lose your sense of wonder at the world, and you’ll make sure to travel as much as you can. I hope you go to the places you’ve loved before, and that you stare at the scenery and give thanks for the moments you had there: Rossville, Tennessee; Parkersburg, West Virginia; Malibu, California; Belgrano, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Columbus, Mississippi.
But I hope more that you take care of the people you love. When I think of you, I see resilience. I think of where you’ve been, and then I think: Wow, I wonder where else you’ll go, and the people you will meet there.
The truth is that I don’t know you, but you know me. But I’ll meet you soon enough, because you’ll be here before we both know it. 🙂
A blog post from yours truly! Thank you so much for reading this and supporting my blog, as you guys are such a joy in my life. It means so much to see views from all over the world. ❤
Today’s post is going back to my roots, when I shared my thoughts on certain books and movies I’d recently read and watched. Thanks to Goodreads, I’m able to easily remember the latest books I’ve read (considering I would not remember otherwise), and I really recommend this website/app to those who enjoy books. Goodreads is a way to keep track of what you’ve read and what you want to read in a user-friendly model.
So let’s jump in already!
1. THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion
A romantic comedy set in modern-day Australia, The Rosie Project is an easy, enjoyable read for those who enjoy the genre. When Don Tillman, an analytical professor who isn’t the best in social situations, creates the Wife Project in order to find the perfect match, his world is tilted upside down with the introduction of Rosie Jarman, the opposite of what he’s looking for.
The Rosie Project has a unique point-of-view that cements the story. While rom-coms are hard to pull off in the realm of originality, Simsion’s Tillman is such a well-written and believable character that the book really revolves around his social awkwardness. These awkward encounters further promote the book’s comedic moments.
However, the book is rather predictable. Boy meets girl, and they fall for each other, get engaged, etc. As a romance writer myself, I’m just as guilty of satisfying what the reader wants (a promise of happily-ever-after, right?), but this book seemed to drop off at the last fifty pages or so. The first two hundred pages, I was really unsure what would happen for Don and Rosie, and I think Simsion got caught up in just getting the book done rather than tying the plot together at the end.
That being said, it was enjoyable, and a good weekend read during endless Tennessee thunderstorms.
Rating: ♥♥♥ (out of a possible five)
2. REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier
A classic that defined the mystery genre for decades, Rebecca is Daphne du Maurier’s legacy. It’s a spell-binding story that was groundbreaking in its day for its dark themes. When Maxim de Winter brings his new wife, the second Mrs. de Winter, to his grand estate, Manderley, secrets of his first wife’s mysterious death are brought to life.
You may recognize Rebecca by its perfect opening line: Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. Supposedly there was an incredible Hitchcock adaptation of the book (though I would disagree, as I only got through five minutes of it), but the book is pretty incredible. It centers on the shy Mrs. de Winter, who learns to push back against Manderley’s evil housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, who is obsessed with Rebecca, even after her death. Slowly, Mrs. de Winter discovers the truth behind Rebecca’s death, and I refuse to spoil this. You’ll have to read for yourself to figure it out.
Rebecca relies on suspense, and du Maurier is a pro at this. She knows how to hook you into the plot, despite its faults, and leave you curious as to what will happen until the very end. Du Maurier is incredible at description, and Manderley is the perfect backdrop for her creepy tale. While these elements grounded me in the story, I do believe that reading this book in 2019 is very different than reading it in the 1930s, when it was published. Mrs. de Winter is a let-down character, a weak woman who suddenly becomes strong at the end of the novel, and her husband, Max, is overly brooding and boring. The shift of the novel that changes how readers perceive the de Winters is a bit unbelievable and anti-climactic in comparison to the discovery of Rebecca’s death.
I still recommend this book to those who like twisted suspense stories.
3. ON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT by Stephen King
Stephen King is arguably one of modern American literature’s best writers. The unarguable king of horror, King has been a withstanding symbol in writing for decades now, and he remains as popular now as he was when he first came onto the scene. On Writing remains one of the my favorite memoirs, in my opinion, though it also acts as a manual for aspiring writers.
The book is split into two perspectives. King gives a peek into his childhood that inspired his writing that would eventually propel him into legendary status. The other perspective is his professional guidance on the writing front, in which he gives awesome tips that I am using now. (One of my personal favorites: Get rid of superfluous adverbs, such as, I was walking quickly.)
The way King writes is gold. He says things simply and magically, and this is really hard to pull off. However, I don’t think of King as a cocky writer; instead, he wrote this book as a response to a traumatic car accident that left him almost dead. And he knew he wanted to pass on his tips to future generations of writers, and this is quite admirable, in my opinion.
You don’t have to be a writer to enjoy On Writing. It has enough material to showcase how King went from a struggling teacher to one of the most successful writers known today.
4. THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas
The most controversial book on this list (and I will explain more later), The Hate U Give is the debut novel of young adult writer Angie Thomas, a native of my second-favorite state, Mississippi. Thomas is an honest, natural storyteller, and The Hate U Give radiates as a result.
For those of you who are not familiar with the idea of police brutality in the United States, Thomas offers her opinion on the subject through this fictional portrayal of sixteen-year-old Starr Carter, who witnesses the murder of her friend when they are pulled over for speeding. The book is unafraid to be itself, and I appreciate this.
While I expected the novel to be very politically charged, I was happy to realize it wasn’t as much as I thought it was going to be. (While I do not want to go on a rant, I enjoy books that are not political. To be honest, I would not have read this book unless it hadn’t been required for a creative writing class.) However, Thomas does a good job of showing a society she sees as flawed while respecting others’ viewpoints on the issue.
That being said, the story itself was not my favorite. I’m not a fan of young adult fiction or teenage characters, and I haven’t ever been. I’ve always been a person to read adult fiction, as I like adult perspectives. Therefore, this story, though serious in nature, was not as interesting to me. You don’t have to agree with my opinion, but I hate love triangles and petty teen drama, and I did not understand why I was reading this book in a college classroom.
The book is important, and I won’t argue that. But it’s not my favorite.
5. SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES: AND OTHER LESSONS FROM THE CREMATORY by Caitlin Doughty
A total shift from young adult and romance, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is a book I’d NEVER thought I would A) read, or B) enjoy. However, Doughty is an incredibly interesting person and writer, and this shines through her memoir/informational guide on funeral homes.
What in the world? you are probably asking. I asked the same thing before I dived into this book.
Caitlin Doughty is a mortician who specializes in cremation, and she is unabashed in her approach to the United States’s funeral home practices. She offers historical background, witty opinion, and clever stories that inform her readers on the misconceptions of mortuary work. Now this book is not for people who are uncomfortable around death, as the entire book revolves around it. What I love is Doughty’s direct and honest perspective, and it’s a unique career path she chose.
Read this book if you’re curious as to what morticians do. Hey, maybe I liked it so much because it wasn’t required for class or written for teenagers. Sue me.
So, if we’re being honest, the past books I’ve read are… In, my opinion, average. Though I am a very critical person, I do know a great book when I’ve read one, and I’m hoping to be impressed soon!
What are some of the books you guys have read recently? Do you have any recommendations for me? I love when you tell me what you enjoy, as you are exposing me to authors, novels, and genres with which I would not otherwise know. 🙂
I promised I would admit why I have been incognito lately, and this post is going to answer that question for you. Truly I have missed blogging over the past month, and I am super excited to get back into my two posts a week schedule. I have some interesting ideas for future posts, and I’m excited to share them with you.
However, I thought it would be best if I give you a little update on what I’ve been up to, and then we will resume with normal posts on Friday.
So, where have I been lately?
1. PRIVATE PILOT (finally)
The past two months have been devoted to studying anything and everything related to becoming a private pilot, and I can say I am official! I had to take a five hour check ride in order to secure this status, and it was intense to say the least. However, it feels so good to be done, and I’m very, very happy. 🙂
As a college student I am (unfortunately) taking a bunch of classes that seem pointless at times. While I love learning, I’d rather be studying things I feel are useful (such as flying). As the school year wraps up, the amount of homework grows exponentially, and so I am in the midst of papers, tests, and presentations. That’s okay, though, because summer is just around the corner!
3. WHAT BOOK SHOULD I WRITE NEXT?
While I have some projects I am working on, there hasn’t been a book idea that really stands out to me since I finished my latest book, Yours Truly, in February. I attribute this to the busy schedule of college and flying, so I am excited to get back into the normal grind of shuffling between projects.
SHORT AND SWEET.
I know this is a baby post, but I did want to update you guys on this big news and explain where I’ve been. I’m still eager to share my viewpoint with the world, and you guys have always been so supportive of that. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I’m so sorry to have been incognito in these past few weeks. A lot of great things have happened, and I will be writing a blog post on that for Monday. Please know that I have missed my blog so much, and especially hearing from you guys! It gives me great joy to be able to connect to so many different people across the globe, as you guys are truly amazing. ❤
Since it has been a while since I’ve posted anything, I decided to do another Q & A, since I haven’t done one in a long time. This gives you guys a chance to get to know me better, and I really do enjoy answering some of these ridiculous questions.
I hope you are all doing well, and I am looking forward to reading your blog posts as well. Without further ado, though, let’s get into the Q & A!
1. Read on a Kindle or paperback book?
Paperbacks are the best in my opinion. There is no greater feeling that having a book in your hands, the pages glimpses into the soul of the writer. I love old books too, the ones you get from a used bookstore, because I feel as if I am connecting to not only the author, but any previous readers too. That being said, I do have a Kindle, and it is a convenient method to reading popular novels.
2. Go to a play or musical?
Though I am in love with music, I have never been big into musicals or plays. I am very much a movie person, but plays and musicals have never been my schtick. My friends will make fun of me for how much I’m not into musicals, though there are good ones here and there.
3. Go to the theater or a movie?
Definitely the movies. I am obsessed with film, and I always have been. I can attribute this to my dad’s love of movies too, as I grew up watching the classics with him. Another fond memory of mine is Friday family movie nights, where I’d pop some cheesy popcorn, pick out a movie, and critique like Roeper. Even now I am addicted to movies. Back home it is an absolute joy to forget the world, hop into the air conditioned theater, and pretend for a while. At college my friends and I hop aboard $5 Tuesday movie nights at AMC so that we can see the newest releases on a budget, since movies are so expensive these days. Just this past Tuesday I saw Pet Sematary, the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s bestseller.
4. Have a Margarita or Pina Colada?
Diet Coke. 😉
5. Crash with friends or stay in a hotel?
I honestly have no idea what this question is. I love staying at people’s homes, since it is such a personal experience, but at times I’m an introvert who craves the peaceful aura of a hotel. I have the travel bug, so I’ve stayed at countless hotels, motels, Airbnbs, hostels, and cabins in the past few years. I’ve found that one method isn’t better than another; it’s who you’re with that matters.
6. Visit Europe or Mexico?
I have never been to either. I spent a year abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, so I’d probably go to Europe if I had the chance. And there isn’t just one country I could go to; I’d want to see them all!
7. Vacation in Hawaii or Alaska, and why?
Both. I think both states are incredible, with their own strengths and weaknesses. I think Hawaii would be a great family trip, whereas Alaska would be something I’d want to do with hikers and outdoorsy individuals. I’m not sure I could pick between the two.
8. Choose a free trip or money? This may tell you whether the person values experiences over dollars.
This is a weird question. I think I’d have to know where the free trip would be, and how much money I am being offered. If someone handed me a thousand dollars, a good portion of that money would be going to travel anyway, if we’re being honest. Though I am a broke college kid right now, I know that a big portion of my future income will go to exploration of this amazing planet!
9. Travel by plane, train, or automobile?
10. Go climbing or zip lining?
Probably zip lining. I have done rock climbing once, and it was so much fun. However, I zip lined in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and it was so incredible to whoosh down a mountain. My heart wanted to burst out of my chest, but it was such an unforgettable experience, and I would love to do it again.
11. Hike or bike?
Hike. Though biking is fun too, I enjoy a nice hike now and then. While I’m not a fan of extended, rigorous hiking, I do love getting lost in some wilderness and walking through forests and deserts and the beautiful world in which we live. This is something else I inherited from my dad, as we both value National Parks here in my home country of the United States.
12. Go to a comedy club or dance club?
I’d prefer to stay at home with a book (LOL). If I had to choose between the two, it would depend on 1) with whom I’m going, and 2) what kind of a comedy/dance club we’d be going to. So many comedians are too crude for my liking, and so many dance clubs aren’t my cup of my tea. I like dancing, but I’ve had some bad experiences at clubs in the past, so I’d probably choose a comedy club.
13. Have a night out or evening in?
It depends on what the night out would entail. I love going out to movies and grabbing a good dinner, but I’m an early bird who prefers seeing the world in the daytime. That being said, I’m an adventurer who wants to really dive in deep to the place she lives. Living in Los Angeles has given me so many opportunities to see and do things I would never have the chance to do otherwise, and many of those experiences are more memorable because it happened at nighttime. So… Another response in which I say I am not sure I can choose.
14. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I’m not sure there is a specific statement that has changed my life, but I can give examples of ethic that have been key pieces of advice for my life. My parents instilled hard work into my brain from an early age on, and I have learned to set goals for myself that are realistic but will propel me to where I want to go.
15. Go canoeing or waterskiing?
I’ve never been waterskiing, and my canoeing skills are quite limited. One time I almost died while kayaking, so there was that situation. (While I’d like to think this is an understatement, it was a very tense moment during my freshman year of college.) That being said, I’d love to try out waterskiing, but I really do enjoy canoeing. A great memory I have is of canoeing on an Ohio river with my cousins while trying not to A) encounter a snake, or B) topple us over.
16. Camp in an RV or stay in a tent?
While I do consider myself an outdoorsy person, I’m not the biggest fan of tents. I like air conditioning and heat and running water. While an RV isn’t the best lodging in my opinion, I wouldn’t mind taking an RV across the country.
17. Use Facebook or Twitter?
Neither. I’m not big into social media. The only reason I have a Facebook is for college purposes, and the only reason I use Twitter is to network with the writing community. Instagram is a waste of time in my opinion, whereas I do use Snapchat.
18. Win the lottery or find your perfect job?
Perfect job. While money can buy some happiness, I’m looking for joy, and I know joy comes from long-lasting things.
19. Swim in a pool or the ocean? Salt water and waves crashing on the beach or temperature controlled, lovely water all year round.
Ocean! I’ve never been really big into swimming, but I do enjoy hopping into the sea now and then. I love hopping on a bodyboard and pretending I can surf, when I have the gracefulness of a newborn giraffe.
20. Travel by sailboat or cruise ship?
I’ve never been on either, so I’m not sure I could accurately choose!
21. What’s your favorite candle scent?
Anything fall scented! There is nothing more I miss than a good Southern autumn, since I haven’t had one in three years. I love when the leaves start to change color, from a deep emerald to bright scarlet or orange. I love corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and the crisp weather. And when it becomes fall, I always bring out my favorite fall candles.
Well, only 21 questions today. I promise to get back into the rhythm of two posts a week, and I’m excited to do so, because I have so much to update you guys on. But in the meantime I hope you all have a wonderful Friday! ❤
1: the cessation of operation usually of a jet or rocket engine also: the point at which burnout occurs
2a: exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration
b: a person suffering from burnout
HELLO, my dear readers.
I hope you are all having an amazing day. Can you believe it is already the middle of February? Wow! There are so many incredible things just around the corner, and I can’t wait to hear your updates and read your blog posts.
Today’s blog post is going to be a little different. This is going to be an “emotions” post, where I update you guys on how I am feeling in life and whatnot. Writing has always been a therapeutic activity for me, as I’m sure it is for you, and I love being able to use this outlet to jot out my thoughts and receive feedback from you guys. Thank you, as always, for your gracious comments and prayers for me. ❤
And without further ado, I’ll just state it simply: I’m on the verge of burnout.
Burnout is a terrible feeling. It’s when things aren’t going your way, and you find that the things that once made you happy aren’t doing you justice anymore. It’s ruthless and powerful.
As humans we experience a wave of emotions. Sometimes we’re propelled into outer space, we’re so happy; others we are in valleys void of water, and droughts bloom in our hearts. Though I think we all hate the droughts while we’re in them, it makes that taste of water that much better. Growth isn’t possible without both highs and lows, and this is something I try to focus on when I’m on the verge of burnout.
So what’s going on? Why am I feeling this way?
I can trace the beginning of it to last week, when my friend group got into a massive argument. While things are better now, this argument exposed a deep fracture in these relationships, and as an INFP I have been really affected by how things are not what I thought they were. I value loyalty and friendship above most things, but not when it destroys my happiness.
These thoughts may seem harsh, but I cannot stand drama. As a person who always takes the middle of the road approach, I’ve found myself on a ledge where no one else is. From being in the middle, I have found myself pulled in two directions, and I’m tired of it. I’m sick of the sting of selfishness. And people are the way they are.
Though I want to find fault in others, I know part of the blame belongs to me for how I handle things. I allow people to walk all over me, because I want to help others in all I can, though this causes pain and hurt in my own walk. We can only carry so much before collapse. I’m sure some of you guys can relate.
As a result of this friend group problem, I have started to analyze the situations around me. There are certain aspects of my life that are absolutely incredible, things I would never change, but there are others that leave seeds of doubt in my brain. I hate wasted time, and I feel as if a lot of it is vanishing before my eyes.
However, I value so many relationships outside of this situation, the people who have listened to me talk nonstop about these frustrations. My family is an integral part of this, and without them I know things would be so much worse. Plus, you guys have also contributed to helping me through this state of anger, and again it means the world to me that you have chosen to listen. 🙂
And to clarify… Flying has given me an outlet to escape my college world. It is the thing that keeps me grounded right now, though the weather has been pretty terrible in Southern California in the past few months. However, the sun always comes out in the end!
If you guys are also going through burnout, just know that eventually it will end, and things will return to normal. However, we have to be willing to do things to relax our frazzled brains. We have to repair ourselves in order to find happiness, and if this means cutting out certain relationships or activities, we must do it to gain ourselves once more.
The truth: Things will change.
Until next time,
P.S. Life is great. Though I am hurt in some aspects, I am very happy in others! ❤
It has been a while since I have done a post like this, so I am excited to write on this topic: The value of people watching! Now, before you consider me a weirdo or accuse me of spying on people, I just want to define what people watching means to me (or according to the good old Internet).
People watching or crowd watching is the act of observing people and their interactions, usually without their knowledge. It involves picking up on idiosyncrasies to try to guess at another person’s story.
So, yes, people watching is a little weird at times. You may even get caught when you do it. However, I attribute people watching to four things that are essential to storytelling and the ability to write believable characters.
Let’s dive on in.
1. A QUICK INTRO
In this day and age, we are constantly surrounded by information. Many of us have smartphones that can tell us what we need to know in seconds. Communication has become as simple as clicking a button, and you can see your loved ones who are thousands of miles away. With this comes the pressure of technology. I am absorbed in my phone, and, as stated in previous posts, I can become overwhelmed by the amount of time I spend on my phone or computer.
Occasionally I challenge myself to just sitting down on a park bench with no distractions. After a few moments, I’ll grow bored and restless, wishing I was at home, snuggled in bed, or drinking a nice Diet Coke. But then, when I stifle these nonsense thoughts, a person walks by. Who knows who the person is or where they’re off to…
So it’s up to me to figure out who this person is!
Maybe the person is off to a job interview; maybe the person is going to the hospital, about to receive a life-changing diagnosis. Maybe the person just won the lottery. Then comes the power of imagination, and a writer unleashes his or her talents accordingly.
Watching normal people living their everyday lives is the perfect way to learn about how we all interact.
2. SOCIAL AWARENESS
There is no doubt that people watching aids in social awareness. Once you start practicing the people watching habit, you’ll start to pick up on subtle things that can explain why people act the way they do.
Social awareness leads to emotional growth, and this is massively important for writers. We must consider ourselves psychologists, in a way: We study our characters, diagnose their flaws, and work to expose them for our readers.
Social awareness then takes on the role of various factors. When we want to develop this emotional intelligence, we have to pay attention to certain things that will help us learn more about the people around us. Here are a few:
Listen to what they say
Repeat what was said
Tone of voice
So how does this relate to real life situation?
Well, let’s consider an example from my creative writing class. Personally, I am not a fan of the classes I take at my university, but I don’t want to rant in this post. In one class, I felt as if I was learning nothing from the school activity, and so I challenged myself to a little “people watching” exercise, in which I observed my classmates and wondered what they were really thinking.
From what I could observe, I sensed that there was a lot of boredom in the classroom (constant gazes toward the clock, staring into space, etc.) and some attentiveness to the professor (scribbling in books, eye contact, etc.). Maybe I was wrong in my assessment, but even if I was, I found the experiment to make me think about how communication is so important in any environment you’ll find yourself in.
3. VERBAL COMMUNICATION
Verbal and non-verbal communication are both tied to social awareness, but I want to expand on the two a little more. In some past classes, I learned that most communication is non-verbal, and some statistics suggest that only 7% of all human contact is through verbal communication (according to Dr. Albert Mehrabian).
While the numbers could be skewed, it is important to realize that the overwhelming majority of communication is through non-verbal cues, yet we emphasize so much on what we say and how we say it (words and tone). Why is this?
Words cut like a knife, and words melt us when we’re in love or with friends or receive a compliment. Language is integral to the human experience, as we know, and so when we people watch, it benefits our understanding to know what our people are saying. Words are little insights into the mind.
Now, this can be considered eavesdropping, which I am quite guilty of doing. It’s human nature to want to know what people are up to, and the same thing can be attributed to verbal cues.
One time, I was commuting on the Buenos Aires subway system when I stumbled upon a very interesting situation. The subway was cramped, packed with people, and I was sitting across from an interesting couple. Both were obviously well-dressed, educated, young, and… Breaking up, in front of everyone.
The man was whispering to her, trying not to make a scene as he broke her heart on that train. I was shocked, terrified, and wondering if I was imagining the conversation before me. But there was no imagination in this case. And what’s worse? He kissed her on the cheek as tears rolled down her face, said goodbye, and hopped off at the next stop.
My heart ripped down the middle for the poor woman across from me. Everyone on the train pretended not to know what was going on, and no one offered any help to her. I wanted desperately to talk to her, but I was a young American and had to get off at the next stop. I was certain she didn’t want anyone bothering her, because she shut down with her non-verbal signals (more on this to come). The shame that covered her face still haunts me.
In this example, there are a lot of non-verbals to unpack, but the ability to hear what the man was saying and how he was saying it was a crux in my understanding of the situation. Sometimes, when we don’t fully comprehend what’s going on, it’s because we don’t have a full picture. Maybe we catch phrases here and there, but I was held captive by the break-up.
The words only iterated the situation before me, despite all the hints from the non-verbal communication.
When we listen to people around us, we develop a greater understanding of how people operate. We can understand how people use what they say to further highlight what they really want to do. If we’re being honest, sometimes people just don’t catch the non-verbals we send, and words step in, ready to get the job done.
4. NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION
If verbals only compute 7% of communication, that means that non-verbals make up 93%. Let that sink in.
As a writer, I have trained myself to emphasize what I want to write. When characters are talking, I know exactly what they are saying to each other, and dialogue becomes one of the most key elements of the story. For example, why is there such an emphasis on the first time lovers whisper, “I love you,” to each other?
Well, according to our statistic, we should be paying more attention to how people act around us, physically, that is. Are they interested in what we are doing, or are they bored and wish they could be anywhere else? Are the people on the streets broken inside, aching for someone to ask them how their days are going, or are they madly, desperately in love?
While we are not psychics or fortune tellers, we can gain greater understanding when we pay attention to body language.
Let’s head back to my creative writing class experiment for a second. I was watching my classmates (hopefully not in a creepy way) and ruminating on what some of their body language meant. Here are some things I caught onto:
Slumped over the book. (Indicates boredom, tiredness)
Fiddling with fingers or pens. (Can suggest boredom, but studies suggest that fidgeting is something we do when we are paying attention to something)
People staring into space, eyelids drooping. (Boredom, tiredness)
Pens back and forth above lips. (Honestly who knows)
Underlining phrases in book. (Attentiveness to class)
Doodling in book. (Boredom)
Mostly crossed legs. (In a comfortable environment)
We have to consider that our minds pretty much automatically recognize these cues and place them into one big image of the people before us. But when we unravel each little movement, we start to see how our minds are smart enough to figure things out in a span of seconds.
It’s pretty incredible stuff, if you ask me.
5. STORYTELLING ABILITIES
As previously stated, we writers are psychologists, we are doctors, we are researchers. We must know what we want to write, and we have to know how to write it convincingly, or our readers will be disinterested in the story we are so so excited to tell.
I have learned so much from watching people. An infinite amount of stories are possible when you open your mind to the world around you. Just like our world is never stagnant, our created worlds are as diverse and large as we want them to be.
I will be honest with you: People watching has taught me more than any creative writing class. Maybe this suggests the classes I have taken are subpar, but I do believe the best writers are trained to watch and analyze reality before diving into imagination.
Both are integral to write, as we write what we know, but we also write what we want to know of the mystery around us. Nothing should ever be black and white, because there is always a gray area of magic around us. This magic is simply what we cannot understand, since we are only human.
But writers have a God complex. We want to be the gods of our imaginations, and that’s where our storytelling comes into place.
If you find yourself in a crowded place, pay attention to the people around you. If you find yourself on a park bench, pay attention to the people who cross in front of you. There is value to be found in observation, especially if you’re a writer. And at the very least, consider how all of these aforementioned points are tied together.
People watching is something you can do anywhere. Don’t be a creep if you decide to participate, but it can be a good way to distract yourself from your own situation, and empathize with others.
But people watching is just the cusp. Relationships are where we really learn. Don’t forget to be kind to all you meet, and really begin to pay attention to all the non-verbals.